How Often Should I Do Pull-Ups & Chin-Ups for Results?
Henry Halse is a Philadelphia-based personal trainer, speaker, and writer. He's trained a wide variety of people, from couch potatoes to professional athletes, and helped them realize their own strength, determination and self-confidence. Henry has also written for various fitness and lifestyle publications, including Women’s Health, AskMen and Prevention.
Perform pull-ups and chin-ups one to three times per week.Photo Credit Cherina Jones
It may seem like more is better when it comes to working out but at a certain point more exercise is not necessarily better. Generally, pull-ups and chin-ups only need to be performed twice per week but a beginner can actually do them up to three times per week.
When you first start adding chin-ups and pull-ups into your workout routine they will probably be one of the most challenging exercises that you do. Neither exercise is very forgiving, especially if you are a beginner, because you have to lift your entire body weight using your back and arm muscles.
Since pull-ups and chin-ups are so challenging for a beginner, you most likely won't be able to do a high number of repetitions, meaning they won't stress your muscles very much. That's why a beginner can actually do pull-ups and chin-ups more often during the week than someone who's intermediate or advanced, although it seems counterintuitive at first.
If you've just started working out or have been exercising consistently for less than two years you're considered a beginner. The American College of Sports Medicine recommends that a beginner work out three times per week and perform a total-body workout every time, incorporating both upper and lower body exercises.
If you're working out three days per week then you can take a rest day between every workout. This built-in recovery day allows you to perform the same exercises in every workout, because your muscles will have a chance to recover. That's why a beginner can do chin-ups or pull-ups three days per week.
After a year or two of working out you're considered intermediate and your workouts begin to change. An intermediate exerciser should do strength workouts around four times per week, according to an article from the National Strength and Conditioning Association. When you add in an extra workout in the week it means that you will have two workouts that are back-to-back. Whereas a beginner has a built-in recovery day between every workout, an intermediate exerciser will not have a recovery day between every workout.
Without a built-in recovery day, you'll need to have different workouts for each day that you work out. You can do two lower body workouts and two upper body workouts to allow each muscle group to recover. In each upper body workout, plan for pull-ups or chin-ups, which means that you can do them twice per week. At this point, you should be able to do a higher amount of repetitions, for some people up to 10, which means that each pull-up or chin-up workout is taxing for your back and arm muscles pretty substantially.
After you've been working out for three or four years you're considered advanced, and are ready to add in a fifth workout to your routine. With five workouts in one week your recovery time is severely limited and you'll need to further specify your workouts.
The American College of Sports Medicine recommends breaking your workouts down by body part. For example, one day you would do all of your back exercises and the next day you would do quadriceps exercises. If you choose to break your workouts down by body part you'll be limiting your chin-up and pull-up workouts to once per week.
As an advanced trainee, you'll be able to do a high number of pull-ups or chin-ups, in some cases more than 10. Some people may even be able to add weight to their chin-ups and pull-ups, making them very intense and taxing on the body. Since each pull-up and chin-up workout will be so demanding on your back and arm muscles, you won't want to do more than two of these workouts in a week to allow for proper recovery.
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